Thursday, August 23, 2012

When Beauty Finds You

Find the beauty… my heart has been crying this lately, screaming for something to behold, to take my breath away, to be in awe.

My grandparent’s garden… one of my favorite places in the world. Maybe my favorite place. Magical battles have been fought under the shelter of its trees and in the coolness of its streams. In my enchanted world, the prince always fought for the princess, and the princess rose to the challenge of rescuing her people from certain despair. Good triumphed evil and dreams came true.

It was especially magical just after a rainfall, when the air was still damp with the remnants of the storm, the sky still covered in clouds, the birds reemerging from the shelter in the trees. All was peaceful, and the garden was full of possibilities.

It was in that garden I dreamed of love. I dreamed of the prince who would come one day and the magic of falling in love. I wanted to be the princess, the heroine, the one who saw beauty, radiated beauty.

I always though the prince of my story was someone one day tangible, someone far off in the distance, some one years away.

Yet, the prince of my childhood dreams  has been here all along, the inspiration of my stories who led me to dreams that were a reflection of Him.

He has been the prince who would sacrifice everything to rescue me, who inspires me to rescue my people, who gave me the desire to seek beauty, because that beauty is a reflection of Him.

As I seek beauty, as I seek magic, He draws me closer to himself.

He knew my heart has been craving beauty.

We went to the mountains the other day, and I was expecting the beauty to come in the form of rainbows and waterfalls… but it was something else.

On a rainy afternoon, I took a walk to be alone, be with Him.

Clouds covered the sky and a cool breeze sent my hands deep in the pockets of my jacket.

And just down the road, He won my heart all over again.

I asked for a flower, and He gave me a garden.

Exotic flowers, birds, butterflies, all to myself. This little oasis in the middle of a city. And I want to giggle and blush like the twelve year old girl I feel like on the inside.

He knows, doesn’t He? My prince knows how to romance me, to remind me of magic, to love just for the simple joy of loving.

In spite of my flaws and failures, the brokenness I have caused His heart, caused for myself.
He never spent time criticizing or writing a list of grievances. He just loved me, in the way He knew I would feel it, know it, be sure of it.

I walk around, Mary Lennox discovering her own secret garden in a busy world. I take pictures, I sing, I discover beauty.
There were no great revelations that took place in that time. I didn’t walk away with a new vision for the future or answers to questions.

But that’s ok.

Because He knew what I needed… to be loved, to be wanted, to behold something wonderful.

And He did it by bringing me a garden… a place I have always loved, found peace, felt secure and protected, believed in magic and miracles.

And I fall in love all over again.

“My lover spoke and said to me ‘Arise, my darling, my beautiful one and come with me. See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come.” Song of Solomon 2:10-11

The Privilege of Sharing their Smiles

She melts in to me… the little one I have searched for all morning, and there she is. We smile at the sight of each other, and I hold her close, wanting her to know I have missed her, I am glad she is safe, I love her. So we walk through our narrow alleyways and sit together in concrete, my arm around her, communicating friendship despite a language barrier. I lean, and she leans, and will she ever know just how much she has helped me heal? I always think she is older than she is, even though she is so small. Probably because she is always carrying a little sister on her hip, a big sister with big weights. My dreams for her home, her friends, they are inspired by this little one. I would take her in a heartbeat if I could. My sweet princess, my vision.

And my baby… her cheeks are full from added weight, her skin tainted with the dirt on her floors. Her bum is bare and she only wears a t-shirt. But those eyes… my girl. He sets her down and she makes those little steps to me. I scoop her in my arms and her head finds its familiar place on my shoulder. I only get a few minutes with her before I must go and she must be returned. But my baby girl… I miss her so much. I would take her in a heartbeat if I could. My sweet princess, my treasure.

That little face and those little dark eyes, full of laughter and mischief. I see her and she sees me, so I bend down and open my arms to welcome her. And she comes… to my surprise, she comes. Arms around each other, I rub her back and she holds me. The sweet little one I didn’t even ask to fall in love with, oh, but I did. Eye to eye, we rub foreheads and noses, and she laughs, and I laugh. And for a minute, all is right in the world with my little friend and I. We play, and then she runs off when arms must release. I would take her in a heartbeat if I could. My sweet princess, my angel.

Her eyes rarely find mine, and when they do, they seem to be far off. A hard life, a mind that went wrong, and pain etched in pronunciation. To take a little of her pain… I don’t know how much she can understand. Does she know she is loved? Can she understand it? But we sit and we laugh and she reveals pieces amidst the chatter. Only five years older than I with more pain than I will ever know or fathom. How do I speak wholeness and value? How do I speak worth? How do I love her well? She is strong, a survivor in spite of impossible odds. I would take her in a heartbeat if I could. My sweet princess, my friend.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

An Old Soul...

      I've always been described as an old woman in a whatever-age-I-am-at the-time-of-comment's body. Maybe some would describe it as an old soul, mature, or maybe just plain boring.

      I always wanted to be older... to be able to drive, vote, go to college, grow up. Not in a way like I was rushing for those things to happen, but I was just ready for them to happen. Who knows... I like my biographies, hot tea, and things that smell like roses, so maybe I am already an old woman.

      While I have been trying to focus on really living in the present, especially this past year, tonight I find myself with that familiar longing... I just want to be older.

       It's not because I find myself discontented with life or even bored.

       I want that wisdom that comes from being older.

       I want the wisdom and the grace that comes from years of living in this world and learning how to not be of this world.

        .... the wisdom of treasuring a lifetimes worth of friendships.

        .... the wisdom of loving and learning to really love well.

        .... the wisdom of a lifetime's worth of fighting spiritual battles and winning victories.

        .... the wisdom of removing labels and seeing people as they really are.

        .... the wisdom of learning to really delight in the time I spend with Him.

        .... the wisdom of nurturing- children, strangers, whoever is brought into my path.

        .... the wisdom of living in a culture and becoming more like them than the culture in which I was         born.

     And no, this is not an impossible standard to hold myself to, or an impossible dream, because I know women like this... women weathered by the storms of life, lines etched in their faces from years of choosing laughter over anger.

     Women with a lifetime's worth of sins, and a deeper knowledge of beautiful grace and redemption.

     I was raised by these women... some biologically, some adopted me, some were in my life for only a season, and some will never meet until heaven, but their influence has forever changed me.

     However, I know that this wisdom does not come without cost... mistakes, sacrifices, pain, regrets... and I wish it were possible to skip that part. Oh, if only it were possible.

     And this is how He reminds me... with every mistake, every word uttered carelessly, every battle waged, every humbling moment... I am learning to love well. I am earning my wisdom.

     I am a student of this grace.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Even in this Season

     The rain has been falling in intervals... first slowly, then a steady beat, then it will relent for a few minutes, only to repeat the cycle again. It is always cold.

      Manila is closed today as flood waters rise in certain parts of the city. Our babies are safe here in a home on high ground. The kids color and make hot chocolate. We bury ourselves in paper work.

      It has been a week of rain, water falling from heaven like I wish tears could fall from my face.

      We lost two babies last week.

      She had come on Sunday, her body starved and tight with a year's worth of rejection. We held, we whispered, kissed, cherished, caressed the soft little cheeks that held potential for such beauty and grace.

      Her name means "Resurrection". I prayed for a resurrection of her body and soul. He had something different in mind.

       I don't understand, and I know I will not for a long time. I may never.

       I have to trust that He is still God over this season.

       Less than eight hours after she went to Him, our sweet little boy, the one who had been defying the odds for years fell unconscious.

       His little body, the one I have held and loved, the one I have kissed, the beautiful little grin of mischief... it struggled. There is no other way to put it. His death was hard. It was ugly, and in this country, there was nothing we could do.

       And now he is gone. She is gone. And my questions are not.

       And the heart that was able to detach for the necessary purpose of doing my job, is now trying to find it's way back to my body.

       Sometimes the rain doesn't always bring healing.

       I love to play in the rain, to run and jump in the puddles, to feel the wind on my face. I have since I was little. The rain was my friend, my comfort.

       Even now, part of me wants to run as fast and far as I can into the rain until I feel... cold, wet, feverish, alive... something. Anything.

       And I can't take pleasure in this rain, knowing that while I am safe, the little ones I love are frightened and clutching the rooftops of their little shacks.

       I want to be there. To run there, to fly there, to do anything to help and keep them safe.

       But I can't.

       I have to trust He is God, even in this season.

       And so we wait... for answers that may never come, a grief that may never be observed, a heart that won't fit quite right anymore, for the floodwaters to subside.